April 7, 2010

Just four items

The next section of class put us in charge of our own items. We had to come up with four items. One each that fit the category of chocolate, pastry, fruit, and custard. We picked the four items, cost out how much it costs to make them, design a plate and draw it, and then make the items. In each group, our group also has to have a four item menu, items from our individual menus. Those items were the items that went out for service on our service night in the school's restuarant. So, we needed at least 16 of our service menu item, and 1 of the other 3 items.

I spent a lot of time pouring over my cookbooks, online food blogs, and my school recipes. Everything that I made was new to me. I wanted to challenge myself and do something new, or at least, a twist on something I already knew.

The other part of this project was that we were timed. We were allowed prep time but the day of, we couldn't get into the service kitchen for plating until 6:30. We had to present 2 plates at 6:45 (one was the item for service), 2 plates at 7:00 (the service item to be sent back to our classmates for critique), and 1 item at 7:15. My group of course had Friday, the last service day but the busiest. Getting the plates ready on time was grueling. I made it on time for all 4 but it was really hard.

I will start with my service item. I called it Lemon Kissed Cheesecake. For the group and my individual menu, it was the custard item. I follow a blog called Tartelette. She makes the most amazing looking macaroons. I ended up looking through her list of recipes and came across the lemon goat cheese cheesecake with blood orange sauce and knew immediately that I had to make it. I made some minor adjustments to the recipe and made it on Monday. I made it in a muffin tin so they were mini round cheesecakes. It made 24 and I was able to make them and freeze them. Being able to do things a head of time made my life so much easier. I am so glad that I didn't have a lot to do the day before or the day of, I might have gone crazy.

With the cheesecake I made a blood orange sauce. Alan, a trooper, drove all over the place looking for juice for me so I could make it without having to juice all those oranges (for the amount I needed it would have taken more than 45 oranges). He found some and I made it! I added some sugar and reduced it in 4 pots on the stoves at school. It was pretty hilarious to see all that orangey-red stuff boiling away at the stove.

For the plate design, I decided to use a bowl. I placed the cheesecake dead center and put a swirl of sauce on top and a dallop on the side. I then added a candied pistachio and a sugar garnish, the color of lemon yellow. I am glad I made extra because we sold out of it in the restaurant, well, except for a test one, and 3 that I gave away. Everyone who tried it said it was good. I liked how it turned out and I plan on making it again. The recipe is a definite keeper! My costing estimate, the final suggested menu price to break even, was $5.03 for one serving, the goat cheese makes this a spendy one. My score on this plate was an 18/20.

My second item of the night was my pastry. I really like cream puffs. I could eat a million of them. I came across a apple inspired one in a cookbook and went with it. I called it Apple Stack. I made pâte à choux and made 2" rounds. They turned out to be closer to 4". The puffed up in the oven more than I could have expected. It was good but bad. It was the one thing I waited to make because I wanted it super fresh. I didn't have time to make it again so I used it too large. To accompany the puff, I made a pastry cream and flavored it with Applejack. Then I made a layer of spiced, caramelized apples. Then a touch more of the pastry cream. I dusted the top with powdered sugar and then set it against the stack in a bit of caramel for an anchor. I liked the taste of it a lot but the size was way out of hand. It took up so much of the plate. I also spent a couple of days figuring out a garnish of thin apple rings, I wanted to get some height on my plate. I finally got it to work and so my garnish was apple rings. I liked my garnish but disliked the size, as did Chef Hall. My score was my lowest one, 17/20. Bummer. My costing estimate, the final suggested menu price to break even, was $3.76 for one serving.

For my chocolate item I went with a full on chocolate s'more. I called it S'more in the City. I followed the school's recipe for a cheesecake crust and hand crushed my favorite cookies, Jules Destrooper Ginger Thins, and added a bit of cocoa powder and flour to it to make it pliable. Next I made chocolate marshmallows. It was a 10"X8" block. It was so fun! Then I made chocolate ganache and caramel sauce to top it. To plate it, I dusted the plate with cocoa powder, anchored the bottom crust with caramel sauce, crust, ganache, toasted marshmallow, ganache, crust, and caramel sauce. I also added a small tempered chocolate piece as my garnish. The only scary part of this was I couldn't test the marshmallow until right before I served it. It starts to get weird and hard the minute you cut into it, air just kills it. So I waited and it was scary but it turned out ok. It was fun to torch it too. I used a wooden skewer and our giant torch. Heehee. Score was 18/20. My costing estimate, the final suggested menu price to break even, was $4.82 for one serving, the cookies I used made this expensive.

My final item was my fruit. I have always wanted to make an ice bowl and serve something cold in it. I came up with this idea to make a granite, poach some fruit, and serve it in the ice bowl. I called this one Spring Thaw. I started the bowls on Monday. I took one bowl, placed some edible flower in to it, place another bowl on top of the flowers, one that was barely smaller, and weighed it down and taped it so there was no movement. Then I filled in between the bowls with water. I carefully stored it in the freezer and walked away. The next day, I check on it and it had frozen properly! I was able to get both bowls seperated and was left with the most beautiful bowls. :) Yippee!!! The next trick was to somehow attach them to a plate. I knew I didn't want to use a sauce because you would be able to see it. I wondered if I could just freeze it to a plate. I tried it that day, and the next day, it was frozen to the plate. It was so cool.

Making the items to fill the bowl was next. I have never made granite, actually, I don't think I have ever eaten it. I think it is like a slushy but with bigger ice chunks. I was bent on reusing and not wasting during this project so I used the mixture that I poached my nectarines in to make the granite. It turned out pretty well. I wanted to ensure that it would freeze so I used baumé scale at school to measure the sugar density. I am glad I checked because it wasn't dense enough, it wouldn't have frozen. I adjusted the mixture and froze it. Then, I stirred it every now and then to get the big crystals. I really was surprised by the fruit. The nectarines we got in tasted terrible but once poached, were flavorful and tender. Poaching is genius!

I served the granite and poached nectarines in the ice bowl, with a drizzle of cremé anglaise. On the frozen plate I put a sprig of mint and a fresh edible flower for garnish. My costing estimate, the final suggested menu price to break even, was $4.90 for one serving. My score for this one still makes me tear up. I got a perfect 20/20.

My group mates had amazing items too. For our group menu Delicia made a chocolate frozen zabaglione, Katie made a poached pear that she stuffed with brie, and baked it surrounded by a sweet dough, similar to pie dough, and Rita made individual fruit tarts brimming with fresh fruit. I am sorry to say I cannot remember what all the rest of their items were.

Last week was unbelievably hard and I worked my butt off. I didn't sleep well at all. That 20/20 really made it worth it. The bowls I used to make the ice bowl, well, Ubi shoved them off the counter. They shattered into a million pieces. I am glad he did it after I used them.

We are in the final stretch. There are 2 1/2 weeks left. I am working on some exciting show pieces and a buffet of desserts. I will post about them soon.

1 comment:

  1. Dinner at the restaurant that night was excellent. It was the same menu as the last time, but I picked different items for each course. For dessert, we ordered three unique ones, but when the time came, Misty's entire group came out each holding two plates (save one) delivering us seven different desserts (for 3 people)! We had one of each of Misty's creations and then the three service item ones from each of her group-mates. The Lemon Kissed Cheesecake was the favorite of everyone at the table. They were all quite good though, kudos all around!